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Thanks in advance for your help.

I started a new job a few months ago. During this time, I've noticed a number of events that I have actively been trying not to interpret as red flags, but lately they have accumulated and so I ask for your help and advice.

1) Do the events below seem like indicators of a bad work environment?

2) Which of the actions (listed at bottom of post) do you suggest taking?

Events

  • Teammate X began CC'ing my manager on all emails - big and small – and made corrections to my work several times via email that were incorrect. He also began asking peculiar questions. For example, he began asking me what time I usually get in in the morning, or asking (at 9am) whether I'm going to make the 5pm meeting.
  • 360 degree performance reviews are conducted. Outcome: I am no longer able to work from home except under rare circumstances and advance notice is required b/c teammate said I was not available. I'm to be in the office by 9:30am. (Mind you working from home is allowed across the company and there are no set in-office hours.) My work quality is criticized but no specific examples are able to be provided, except unrelated incorrect items Teammate X brought up (that are factually and provably false). All criticism is in line with what Teammate X has been trying to position against me. This is in sharp contrast to feedback provided by outside sources. Manager insists I provide bi-weekly reports of what I am working on going forward, and repeatedly asks 'how I think things are going', visibly frustrated, and seems like he would be relieved if I resigned right then and there. Additional feedback was that I should walk around to people's desks more when I have questions instead of sending email or using chat. I manage to listen carefully and actively, swallow pride and take full responsibility for all feedback, repeat back what I heard, and take action that day sending a thorough report and being in the office every day by 930am to rebuild trust and hopefully repair whatever is going on. Manager ignores my email, report and meeting invites and abandons the new requirement beginning Monday the following week.
  • Teammates then receive 360 degree reviews, but surprisingly my input and feedback was never sought.
  • Teammate X begins wanting to learn about a significant area of responsibility of mine (roughly 50% of my role). I help out and share all I know.
  • I find out that Teammate X has posted a job listing and did not invite me to interview subsequent candidates. The role is under what was once my direct area of responsibility.
  • I ask my manager whether Teammate X now owns this responsibility. She says no, I just asked her to post the job listing... Manager informs me that that that responsibility will be owned by another team at some point in the future given its size. I am surprised that I was not asked which of my two main responsibilities I would like to pursue.
  • New hire is made. New hire works from home every week, two days out of the week, as part of their agreement.
  • Teammate X begins broadcasting that they now run my former area of responsibility, dramatically overstating their influence, etc. despite lacking the knowledge, speed and performance I have in this area.
  • Manager responds to my emails maybe 50% of the time, at best. May be the same for others, and I'm sure it is in some cases.

My perspective

I've tried to weather the storm here and repair things. I sat through a lot of feedback that both emails, facts, and outside sources disagree with.

That said I believe perhaps I have been a bit naive and I am in a situation that isn't good, and perhaps resembles bullying.

Assumptions

  1. I'm very unlikely to have success on my current team working for my current manager
  2. I'm even less likely to have an upward trajectory at the company

Both of these are important to me.

Potential Next Steps

  1. Attempt to switch teams within the company OR
  2. Talk to someone about it (but I would rather not burn bridges, and I don't think this manager is going anywhere) OR
  3. Begin interviewing elsewhere OR
  4. Work hard, be nice, communicate and hope it gets better.

Which action do you recommend?

Thank you!

closed as off-topic by keshlam, Lilienthal, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, The Wandering Dev Manager Jan 21 '16 at 18:27

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Lilienthal, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, The Wandering Dev Manager
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • While I haven't read this all, I'm seeing a few red flags in your question that indicate that it's off-topic. A general "what should I do?" isn't a good question for a Q&A site as it's usually too specific to your situation with too many unknowns. Could you clarify an actual question or your desired goal/outcome? – Lilienthal Jan 21 '16 at 13:06
  • @Lilienthal I added two questions in the second paragraph of the post. My goal is to confirm: 1) is this normal workplace behavior? 2) what next step do you suggest I take? I laid out four options as I see them. – jim smith Jan 21 '16 at 13:12
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The situation you describe is the typical path for when someone is being removed for underperforming. In my opinion this would only be bullying if your boss knew for a fact that you were not underperforming and still took this action. My reading of the situation is that your fate was decided at the 360 review stage, that your team and boss decided you being on the team was detrimental. From that point onward saving your job through performance improval is a long shot unless you have a seriously rare skill set.

In my opinion of your presented options:

  1. No other team will want an underperformer so your reputation will likely make that a waste of time
  2. Unless you have allies in upper management this is likely a waste of time
  3. Absolutely start looking elsewhere, the best thing for your career is ensuring that you are always employed
  4. Work hard, be nice, and communicate as this is how a professional acts in the workplace but be ready for that to not save your job
  • 1
    And before you take another job, please read several books on office politics. – HLGEM Jan 21 '16 at 15:03
4

This is difficult to answer because we can't know the full dynamic that you have with your team, the mysterious "Teammate X", or your manager, but here goes:

If your public image is so damaged that your manager sees and treats you as a second-rate employee, then you should get out.

Company Wide Image

You have to realize that most people are not aware of your day to day responsibilities and performance. Every other manager in the company will only know what they hear from your own leader: "this guy can't be trusted, etc."

Furthermore, your far more vocal and politically astute Teammate X has, according to your own post, been running a campaign against you, and has probably expressed a negative opinion to many coworkers - probably in other teams as well.

For this reason I doubt that simply switching teams would solve your issues.

Building Trust

In my experience once things get this bad there's no "fixing" the relationship. It takes a very open minded manager to allow a disgraced employee a chance at redemption, and it takes some smart maneuvering on your own part to change perception.

Not only does your manager seem to have a pretty strong bias against you, but I'm sorry to say that it sounds like you're not too good at playing at office politics either.

Lesson to Learn

A question I'd ask myself if I were in your shoes would be:

How did it ever get so bad?

Having people's opinion turn against you doesn't happen overnight. You have to ask yourself whether:

  1. You've been the target of Teammate X's political vendetta, and if so, why, and how come you weren't able to deflect it?

  2. You really have dropped the ball on some issue, and if so, in what way?

According to you, your performance is stellar, however you image has been corrupted by this "X" asshole. I can sympathize with that.

However, at the same time, how is it that you allowed the situation to get that bad in the first place? How is it that you failed to build any sort of positive reputation regarding your work? How come you didn't defend yourself when you were accused of slacking, or being unavailable? How did your manager develop such a terrible opinion of your performance? Furthermore, that crack about asking question in person vs. e-mailing sounds to me like maybe you haven't adapted to the company culture all too well ..

Quite frankly, if you quietly allowed this person to spread rumors and walk all over you then this is indicative of a problem which will follow you wherever you go: your own inability to stand up for yourself and showcase your work and skills in a positive light.

Second, you while you claim that your performance is great, how is it that Teammate X managed to point out your mistakes to management? How did distrust of your attendance, etc. get generated? Analyze your own actions more closely - maybe you did slip up and you're not being entirely honest with yourself (please don't be offended, I really have no way of knowing one way or another, I'm just exploring the possibilities)

Conclusion

If I were you I'd pick up that ball you dropped (politically) and make one final attempt at redemption. Bury your manager in progress reports, positive customer feedback, check in with them when you get into the office, etc.

Start shutting Asshole X down, and increase your visibility in the office by becoming more social and pointing out your achievements any chance you get.

These will serve as an important learning opportunity in how to maneuver politically in a company.

Then take this harsh lesson to heart and move on, as people rarely change their minds about others when they've labelled them as untrustworthy.

2

Yes, you are in trouble. That is the documentation phase before removal. Sounds like they've already hired your replacement.

Your list of things to do is correct, but they should all be done and do them in parallel to ensure you have as many options available to you so that you can choose your fate. You have limited time, so move quickly.

Note on your Option 2: You should have a frank and polite discussion with your boss as to what he thinks of your work and if he has any feedback for you. Then, email him a follow-up, thanking him for his time and summarizing your conversation so that you have a document trail.

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